Chance News 32

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In Chance News 31 we had the forsooth

Of Italy's 151 Series A players, 52 are non-white, with Inter fielding, 19,
Juventus 12, AC Milan 13, AS Roma 12 and Udinese 10. Messina has eight.

The Times
30 November 2005

Marcello Pagano comments that in Italian there is the saying:

L'aritmetica non è un'opinione

which we choose as our quotation for this Chance News.


The following Forsooths are from the Dec 2007 issue of RSS NEWS.

The methodology behind the ICS survey is flawed. There were only 2000 respondents, a small number for any statistical survey, who were asked to nominate which firms of services they used and how that rated them.

The Times
22 Octobeer 2007


'In statistics, in data which are binomially distributed, individual values may be placed in one of two mutually exclusive categories such that the sum of the probabilities of occurring in the categories is what value?'

Answer given: 'Unity'


'No, it's one, or a hundred percent'

University Challenge BBC2
22 October 2007

This Forsooth was suggested by Paul Alper

The fact is, analysts say, that for all that it has a secular constitution, Turkey remains a relatively conservative country. The word atheist has only recently appeared in Turkish, but "godless" still remains an insult here. "Only 2% of the people we interviewed said they didn't believe in God", says Ali Carkoglu, co-author of a 2006 study of religious attitudes.

"Given that we had a 2% margin of error that could mean nobody", he added. "In any case it takes considerable courage for a Turk to admit to a stranger that they are atheists."

The London Independent
30 November 2007

Math too hard for this lottery

John Haigh, author of one of our favorite chance books:"Taking Chances: winning with probability" suggested this item.

The following story appeared in the December issue of the London Mathematical Society Newsletter.

From the Manchester Evening News 3 Nov 2007

A Lottery scratchcard – the Cool Cash game – was taken out of shops yesterday after some players failed to grasp whether or not they had won.

To qualify for a prize, users had to scratch away a window to reveal a temperature lower than the figure displayed on the card. As the game had a winter theme, the temperature was usually below freezing. But the concept of comparing negative numbers proved too difficult for some. Camelot received dozens of complaints on the first day from players who could not understand how, for example, –5 is higher than –6.

Tina Farrell, from Levenshulme, called Camelot after failing to win with several cards. The 23-year-old, who said she had left school without a maths GCSE, said: "On one of my cards it said I had to find temperatures lower than –8. The numbers I uncovered were –6 and –7 so I thought I had won, and so did the woman in the shop. But when she scanned the card the machine said I hadn't. I phoned Camelot and they fobbed me off with some story that –6 is higher – not lower – than –8 but I’m not having it. I think Camelot are giving people the wrong impression – the card doesn’t say to look for a colder or warmer temperature, it says to look for a higher or lower number. Six is a lower number than 8. Imagine how many people have been misled."

A Camelot spokeswoman said the game was withdrawn after reports that some players had not understood the concept.

Submitted by Laurie Snell

David Kendall 1918-2007

The London Mathematical December Newsletter also reported the sad news that David Kendall, one of this centuries greatest probabilist, has died at age 90. You can read about his contributions in the Times of London's Obituary .